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UKCARP MAGAZINE 27 SEPTEMBER 6TH 2011USING PELLETSI can't imagine fishing any time of the year without some form of pellets, as I've yet to find a water where they're not instant and mega-effective. Huge advancements in the aquaculture industry have benefited us carp anglers with an outstanding range of pellets to choose from. Pre-digested fishmeals and the "winterised oils" used in some pellet production have made them better now than ever before.It wasn't that long ago when I didn't even consider using pellets as I believed most were cheap and nasty, and on many waters I fished the bream or tench would be all over them like a rash. I started to play around with pellets more when I watched a guy do very well on a tricky lake I fished about 12 years ago. He stalked so many of its big fish using trout pellets that it soon became clear to me how much the carp like them. It was also at this time that PVA started to become a big edge for me and it seemed to go hand in hand with pellets. Nowadays I still love to use PVA and pellets together, but there are many other things you can do with pellets to up your success rate.There are dozens of pellet types to choose from and although many are very good there are others I don't rate. I've never done well or seen anyone do well on CSL-style pellets, which are made for animal feed, not for fish. I watched a guy using them at my fishery the other day - his were dyed green and labelled as 'green lipped mussel pellets'. I was pretty confident that they had never been in the same county as any mussel extract and I told him he would be better off using simple carp or trout pellets. I'm sure, on overstocked waters where the carp have to eat anything thrown at them, that CSL pellets are fine, but at the end of the day you get what you pay for. This is why I recommend buying the best quality pellets you can find - they are still very cheap compared to quality boilies.I have been a big fan of trout and halibut pellets for many years, as these high oil food items are very attractive to all fish. But I've never used them in great quantities as I think they are incredibly "rich" for carp and a mouthful or two is all you need to get a bite. If I want to introduce more pellets I will go for standard carp/coarse pellets. Many manufacturers sell these - they are light brown, more cereal-based and lower in oil than the dark, oily trout and halibut pellets. These are the pellets that most fish farmers rear their carp on now, so they seem like a natural food - and I know in my own fishery that the stockie carp love them more than anything else.To make them even more attractive I like to scald these pellets down with some boiling lake water before I introduce them. This process breaks down the surface skin and kick-starts them into leaking off food signals. You only need a little water - you don't want them to be soaking, just dampened. You can even ball these scalded pellets up together and fire them out with a catapult. This is a method that is very quick and instant, which suits me down to the ground.Carp pellets smell so much stronger when you scald them and I'm convinced they're much better than just used in their raw state. I often add a splash of liquid flavouring to them as well for some "I believed pellets were cheap and nasty, and on many waters bream or tench would be all over them like a rash"Bags to cast on a clip and lay down a carpet of feed.Clipping up and casting a PVA bag so it hits the spot.

UKCARP MAGAZINE 28 SEPTEMBER 6TH 2011USING PELLETSextra food signals. I remember a chat I had with top match angler Steve Ringer a few years back, when he explained to me how he would never use hard pellets. He would soften down and flavour his slightly the night before, so they were far more instant. This stuck with me and I haven't looked back since.In the warmer months I like to use chunky pellets, so the warm water does not break them down as rapidly as it does with micros. I do, however, always carry a little bait box with a mixture of 1mm-3mm pellets inside. On some waters I've found 10p sized PVA bags of these minuscule pellets to be instant when casting to showing fish. My most trusted PVA bag mix of pellets would be a blend of the finest trouties I can get my hands on. I source mine directly from Skretting, which is the leading pellet manufacturer. I only use the most expensive pellets it produces, but as I said, they are still very cheap compared to boilies - probably a quarter of the price - and I use them mainly for only PVA bag work. The guy I mentioned earlier who I watched batter a venue by stalking it with trout pellets has also influenced how I fish at close range. I've never found fish to be very confident in picking up large baits in the edge but I've done very well by flicking out 8mm trouties, one at a time, to get fish feeding just a yard or so from the bank. I caught five nice fish from Kingfisher at Bluebell Lakes by stalking them under the trees with a handful of oily pellets, which got by far the best reaction from the heavily pressured carp in that lake.Much as I'm a fan of pellets I do not like them for hookbaits as they are far too much work. I compare it to my surface fishing: I'm happy to feed dog biscuits all day long but I never use one as a hookbait. I much prefer a cut down pop-up or even an imitation mixer. When I use pellets on the bottom I like small hookbaits. I know some guys will cast out a PVA bag loaded with 4mm pellets with a 20mm boilie on the hair, but I've found small baits to be much more reliable. I love using Nash small chopped shaped boilies, and I can't begin to say how many fish these have caught me over the years, especially from day-ticket lakes. They are of a similar size and colour to a washed-out pellet, and perfect to fish alongside pellets proper.I'm not a fan of plastic pellet "Much as I'm a fan of pellets I do not like them for hookbaits as they are far too much work. I much prefer a cut-down pop-up"Scalded pellets can be balled up and fired out with a catty.Catapulting out scalded pellets to lay down a bed of feed at short to medium range.Softened, flavoured pellets are deadly.Warm (left) and cold weather bag mixes of various pellet sizes.